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NBA Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers face Thunder in Oklahoma City without Varejao, Waiters, Miles

Prediction? Pain.


This has been a difficult Cleveland Cavaliers season. The team stands at 22-36 and is just now starting their most difficult stretch of the season. What's worse, the team was awful for much of the season even while largely avoiding injury. The reasons for this are myriad, and I am too depressed to go into them now.

Now, though, the Cavaliers are beat up. They head to Oklahoma City on the second night of a back to back without Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles. Kyrie Irving played 652 minutes last night against the Toronto Raptors. The Thunder are really good at basketball. The Cavs aren't. Oklahoma City are 14 point favorites. This makes sense.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (22-36) at Oklahoma City Thunder (43-14)

When: 8:00 ET

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Where can I watch? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass.


Alright, that's not music. It's the only thing that makes me feel good about this game. People can speculate on Kyrie Irving's future as much as they want. But one thing is clear and true: he plays for Cleveland right now, and while the Cavaliers have been awful with him, in many cases he has been a lonely bright spot. That will likely have to be the case tonight if the Cavs are going to keep this game competitive.

The Cavaliers beat the Thunder last the season on the heels of an embarrassing loss to the Detroit Pistons. The Cavaliers were engaged last night, they just couldn't get a win. If Kyrie Irving has anything left in the tank, perhaps this one will be competitive. Is it likely? No. But Kyrie Irving wears the Wine & Gold, and whatever you think of him as a person or player, he has the ability to do some impressive things on the court. Here's hoping we see some of that tonight.

Outside of Irving, it's hard to know what to expect. Spencer Hawes appears to be fitting in nicely. Luol Deng is hurt and this is going to be a tough one from him without rest. We might see a lot of Alonzo Gee. Is Sergey Karasev alive? Is Matthew Dellavedova an NBA player? We are at the point of the season where guys are starting to audition for NBA jobs next season, and the Cavaliers front office will be evaluating who should be part of the team moving forward.

The Thunder are awesome. I envy them. They have made a few questionable decisions and failed to make some moves I would have made. To be specific, I would have thought they could have gotten more for James Harden. Even so, Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams are looking like a pretty nice return package. Kendrick Perkins plays too much. They should have acquired a C.J. Miles type player.

But these are probably quibbles. Moving forward, they have Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka, guys who compliment each other almost perfectly (I love Russ and KD together), and have Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, and Steven Adams around as well. There just isn't another team as primed for the long term success that OKC is. They have a great chance to get out of the Western Conference this year.

Even if the Cavaliers disgust you at this point, watch this game to see Kevin Durant. Watch this game to see Ibaka. Watch this game to see Westbrook work himself back into shape. This might be the team that can knock off Miami.

Fear the Sword's fearless prediction: Thunder 106, Cavs 91.